Well, it’s out at last – ‘The Sixpenny Tiger’ is now published on Amazon in paperback and on kindle. If you read my post called ‘Fighting the Tiger’ you will know it is actually the first book I wrote, even though I have published three other books before it.
I found it very hard to rewrite and edit for a few reasons. Because it is my first book, it is partly biographical, based on my memories of working in a Children’s Care Home in the late nineteen sixties. It describes my desperation to work caring for children and my fears at the interview because of my ‘delicate’ state of health. The matron saw that I needed a chance to prove myself, which I did. I also include details of my life with my parents in the beautiful black and white farmhouse and allude lightly on my ill-fated first marriage. It’s not completely accurate to my life because I was married for five years, not three and I had two children, not one and life with my first husband was considerably more difficult than in the story. I only used my background on a surface level because I did not want to detract from the main storyline about Davey, the boy hated by his housemother at the Home and who suffered terribly at her hands when she married his father and there was no matron or ‘Aunty Sally’ to protect him from her.
Now, I do not know why I wrote such a story; it was not my intention. But this was a story determined to be written, for it flowed into my computer as if it had already been written and I was copying it. I hasten to say that I did not copy it!
Imagine my distress, then, not that long after I had finished writing the book, to discover that there were, in fact, three children in one family, two girls and a boy, who had been in that very situation I had written about: a housemother at the Home where I worked (thankfully, not someone I worked with, she was there a few years after me) had married their father and when they were living at home with her they were subjected to terrible cruelty, much worse than Davey in my story. I was very upset and I told one of the ‘girls’ that I would not go ahead with my story. She replied that she wanted me to go ahead with it. They were in a situation where some believed them and some wouldn’t believe them because certain people wouldn’t believe it of the woman concerned. As I didn’t know the housemother, I couldn’t begin to make a judgement from her point of view. However, I have to say that I did actually believe the ‘children’. I was extremely upset that the situation I had written about had actually happened – and to children that I had known and cared for – and had absolutely no knowledge of it whatsoever.
I realise that the outcomes of my story are perhaps unrealistic; I know that it’s very hard to ‘get over’ abuse, especially childhood abuse. It is not easily erased, probably never can be. But I did want to show that victims of abuse can often follow a behavioural pattern not easily explained or understood by them; often they need help, not condemnation.
‘The Sixpenny Tiger’ may well make you angry; it will almost certainly cause you to shed a tear or two. It will, hopefully, make you think. I hope you will read it and spread the word.